‘China blocks North Korea nuclear report’

Thursday, February 24, 2011

LONDON - China refused to allow the release of a report by a UN expert panel on the findings of a new uranium enrichment plant in North Korea, a media report here said Thursday.

Many members of the Security Council pushed for the publication of the report, arguing that all 192 UN member states should have access to its findings, according to UN diplomats speaking on condition of anonymity, the Daily Telegraph reported.

The report, which found that North Korea is ignoring UN sanctions and continuing its nuclear enrichment programme, contains recommendations on how to improve Pyongyangs compliance with sanctions imposed after illegal nuclear and missile tests in 2006 and 2009.

“The United States supports the report and believes that it should be made public as soon as possible,” US deputy spokeswoman Carolyn Vadino said.

Siegfried Hecker, a US nuclear scientist, said in November last year that during a trip to North Korea, he was taken to an industrial-scale and previously unknown uranium enrichment facility, the report said.

Hecker, a former director of the America’s Los Alamos National Laboratory, briefed the Security Council sanctions committee in November.

At Wednesday’s council briefing, diplomats said China, North Korea’s closest ally, argued that Hecker had no official standing, that there was no independent confirmation of the uranium enrichment plant, and that the report’s findings and recommendations went beyond the facts.

The council discussed the report behind closed doors during a briefing by Portugal’s UN Ambassador Jose Filipe Moraes Cabral, who heads the council committee monitoring UN sanctions against North Korea, the report said.

In response to a question on whether one country could block the release of a report, Cabral said the Security Council’s practice is to operate on the basis of consensus.

The US has been working with China, Japan, Russia and South Korea since 2003 to persuade North Korea to abandon its nuclear programmes through a framework known as the six-party talks. Those talks ended in December 2008 and have not resumed.

Filed under: Diplomacy

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